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Divyavadana – Sanskrit Anthology of Buddhist Avadana

The Divyavadana (or Divine Narratives) is a Sanskrit anthology of Buddhist Avadana tales, many originating in Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya texts.

The Divyavadana (or Divine Narratives) is a Sanskrit anthology of Buddhist Avadana tales, many originating in Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya texts. It may be dated to the 2nd century CE.

The stories themselves are quite ancient and may be among the first Buddhist texts ever committed to writing, but this particular collection of them is not attested before the seventeenth century.

Buddha Stories

The stories involve the Buddha teaching to a group of disciples how a particular individual, through actions in a previous life, came to have a particular karmic result in the present.

A predominant theme is vast merit (puṇya) collected from making offerings to rational beings or at stupas and other holy sites related to the Buddha.

Contents

The anthology contains 38 Avadana stories in all, including the well-known Aśokāvadāna “Legend of Aśoka”, which was translated into English by John Strong (Princeton, 1983). 

The collection has been known since it was selected in Eugène Burnouf‘s history of Indian Buddhism (1844). The first Western edition of Sanskrit text was published in 1886 by Edward Byles Cowell and R.A. Neil. And in 1959, the Sanskrit text was again edited by P. L. Vaidya.

Stories of Divyavadana

In the opening paragraphs of Sahasodgata-avadāna, Buddha’s instructions for creating the Bhavacakra (wheel of life) were described.

Rudrāyaṇa-avadāna describes how the Buddha gave the first example of the Buddha to King Rudrayaṇa. According to this story, at the time of the Buddha, King Rudrayana (a.k.a. King Udayana) offered a gift of a jeweled robe to King Bimbisara of Magadha. 

King Bimbisara was concerned that he did not have anything of equivalent value to offer as a gift in return. To get the advice, Bimbisara went to Buddha. Buddha gave directions to have the first drawing of the Buddha himself send the drawing to Rudrayana. It is said that Rudrayana attained realization through seeing this picture.

List of Stories

This is the list of stories contained in the Divyāvadāna:

  1. Koṭikarṇa-avadāna
  2. Pūrṇa-avadāna
  3. Maitreya-avadāna
  4. Brāhmaṇadārikā-avadāna
  5. Stutibrāhmaṇa-avadāna
  6. Indrabrāhmaṇa-avadāna
  7. Nagarāvalambikā-avadāna
  8. Supriya-avadāna
  9. Meṇḍhakagṛhapativibhūti-pariccheda
  10. Meṇḍhaka-avadāna
  11. Aśokavarṇa-avadāna
  12. Prātihārya-sūtra (The miracles at Śrāvastī)
  13. Svāgata-avadāna
  14. Sūkarika-avadāna
  15. Cakravartivyākṛta-avadāna
  16. Śukapotaka-avadāna
  17. Māndhātā-avadāna
  18. Dharmaruci-avadāna
  19. Jyotiṣka-avadāna
  20. Kanakavarṇa-avadāna
  21. Sahasodgata-avadāna
  22. Candraprabhabodhisattvacaryā-avadāna
  23. Saṅgharakṣita-avadāna
  24. Nāgakumāra-avadāna
  25. Saṅgharakṣita-avadāna
  26. Pāṃśupradāna-avadāna
  27. Kunāla-avadāna
  28. Vītaśoka-avadāna
  29. Aśoka-avadāna
  30. Sudhanakumāra-avadana
  31. Toyikāmaha-avadāna
  32. Rūpāvatī-avadāna
  33. Śārdūlakarṇa-avadāna
  34. Dānādhikaraṇa-mahāyānasūtra
  35. Cūḍāpakṣa-avadāna
  36. Mākandika-avadāna
  37. Rudrāyaṇa-avadāna
  38. Maitrakanyaka-avadāna

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